Should I be putting my kids before my plans?

Should I be putting my kids before my plans?

Great question. Is there a correct answer? Does it depend on your situation?

I am finding we are at a new stage in our parenting with a nearly 19-year-old daughter living at home, studying at university, working, youth leader, active social life, and a boyfriend, and our 16-year-old son itching for more freedom.

In January, I wrote the article below in my journal and felt it is a fantastic example of putting my kids’ plans before my own.

I have just waved my 18-year-old daughter off to Youth Camp, her first camp as a Youth Leader. My 16-year-old son went yesterday with the rest of the Youth Group. My daughter had to work overnight as a shift manager at McDonald’s to get this time off for camp, so she joined the camp a day late.

When I woke this morning, there was a text from her asking me to wake her if she wasn’t up by 9.45 am. She always wakes in time, so I didn’t need to wake her, but I set my alarm just in case. On waking, she explained why she was leaving earlier than the 10.30 am she had planned. She wanted to get to camp so she could have lunch with them. A wise decision as it is always hard when you are joining a camp late, but mealtime is a great time to arrive. The urgency to leave came from her brother and his friend asking if she could buy a goldfish on the way for an approved prank. She had agreed if those two waited in line every meal and delivered her food to her. Good bargaining. Win-win.

I had planned on spending the day writing more sessions in an e-course I am developing on dream interpretation. I chose to delay this until after she left.

I reminded her of the need for a RAT (rapid antigen test) that she needed to do before camp as a prerequisite for all attendees. She had forgotten. I had it laid out on the table and watched the timer whilst she showered.

Was I wrong in doing this?

Was this micromanaging her?

Was I enabling her in her forgetfulness?

Do I not have a life outside my kids?

Do I need to let her make her own mistakes?

All these questions flooded my mind after I waved her off. Fair questions. But everyone’s situation is different. I reflected. Hubby and I have sacrificed financially for me to be available to our kids over the years. I homeschooled them. I have made myself available to be home and present when they arrive home or need me. Is that wrong? I consider it a privilege that we have made the sacrifices so that I can do that.

My daughter is not forgetful. She has an incredible leadership ability and can juggle multiple commitments. But she is only 18 years old. She thinks she is invincible like any 18-year-old but occasionally needs some suggestions or reminders. Whilst showering, she asked me to put her pillow and sleeping bag in her car. I could have refused, but it was a blessing to both of us that I could take that time. I asked her about a problem with the car and if she had seen the auto electrician yet. She had arranged all that herself with the issue fixed for $10.

When my kids were toddlers, I heard Steve Biddulph (an Australian parenting expert) speak. He encouraged parents that a crucial time for mothers to be available for their kids was when their kids were teenagers. Before and after school. Being present. Being around the home.

I realize that this is not always possible. I realize that this can take great sacrifice (as I attest to). I consider it a privilege that my kids know that I am available and present to help in stressful or pressure times.

Parents, how available are you for your children?

Am I sacrificing my needs? Yes. But I didn’t have kids so that they could raise themselves, and I put my needs first. Should I prioritize myself more? Probably. But I would ask, has our world become too self-centred? Is the message of putting your own needs first crowded out effective parenting? What does it mean to put my own needs first?

Every family is different and has different opinions. My question would be, how would it change your family and your kids’ lives if you were more available to them? What would it take for you to be more available to them? Is this doable?

Parenting an 18-year-old is completely different from parenting younger teenagers and kids. If they have a job, access to money, a car or the ability to get themselves places without you, it is a whole new ball game. Our daughter is home for an evening meal roughly once a week, and I enjoy making that meal special. I want to continue creating special memories. Having older teenagers (kids of any age really) requires adjustment for the whole family which we are currently learning to navigate.

Parents. How have you managed this stage in your teenager’s life? I would love to know your thoughts. Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and feelings.

2 thoughts on “Should I be putting my kids before my plans?

  1. Karen Brough

    Fabulous blog Jane! Some really valid questions here…I don’t have the stock standard answer either, if they’re is such a thing….but tbh…if the teenagers and young adults are connecting with you on this level, doesn’t this reveal a measure of love and support? And they are reaching out for help! Awesome!!!!!! How often do we hear of teens clamming up, not wanting anything to do with their folks.
    Yes there is the potential for it to swing either way, too far, but honestly, the fact that your kids/our kids want to share their lives with us, is a great privilege and honour. All too soon they’ll be grown ups and these precious times of them living at home with us, will be treasured memories. Enjoy it darlin, I am certainly trying too.💗
    As an aside, I love that our kids are learning it’s okay to not do it all alone… they understand the idea of village life. As I read your post, this idea kept coming in Jane, this is village life. You have made some brilliant decisions and your kids have been blessed as a result.
    God bless your family in every way, may He produce a great harvest that far outweighs any cost along the way.


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